Gardener's Magazine 11: 426-428 (Aug. 1835)

ART. II. A History and Description of the different Varieties of the Pansy, or Heartsease, now in cultivation in the British Gardens, illustrated with Twenty-four coloured Figures of the choicest Sorts.
By J. Sinclair and J. Freeman.
In 8vo Numbers, monthly, 6d. each; to be completed in 24 Numbers, each containing a coloured figure of one select variety, with descriptions, &c. London, 1835.

THE object of this work, we are informed in the introduction, is to bring into notice all the choice and leading varieties of heartsease now in cultivation.

"Such has been the rapid increase of the pansy tribe within the last few years, that there are now among the London florists and nurserymen upwards of 400 named sorts, of almost every conceivable colour; yet there has never been any publication wholly devoted to the heartsease. Although there have been so many distinct varieties of the pansy raised of late years, the number of choice sorts fit to please the eye of the florist or amateur, is yet but limited. The subjects chosen to illustrate this work are those only which are considered really good, and form the first class of show flowers. The work is to be continued monthly, and will be completed in twenty-four numbers. Each number is to contain one variety, faithfully drawn and coloured from nature, with a full description of each figure, accompanied with their various modes of propagation, soil, and situation, with every other particular which may be calculated to promote the growth and culture of the heartsease." (p. 1.)

The first number contains one plate and sixteen pages of letterpress, all, as the technical phrase is, very well got up. We have seen some of the plates intended for future numbers, which are all beautifully engraved and coloured; and, indeed, from knowing the authors and their connexions in the botanical and horticultural world, we have no doubt that the work will be completed in good style, as, indeed, it ought to be, for it is dedicated to Mrs. Lawrence.

After an explanation of the terms to be used in describing the Pansy, are given a technical description of the order Violarieae, a generic character, and a description of Viola tricolor var. Allen's John Bull, &c. As a specimen of the practical matter we give the following paragraphs:—

"The results of various experiments relative to the growth of the Pansy, amount merely to this,—that, to produce fine large blooms, due attention must be paid to soil, situation, and often transplanting, as young plants are always found to produce the finest-marked and largest blooms.

"Soil and Situation. Pansies delight to grow in a cool shady situation, and in a light, rich, loamy soil. A composition of good loam, enriched either with rotten dung, leaf, or vegetable mould, will grow them in the highest perfection: yet they will grow and bloom abundantly in any good garden soil. But by proper soil, often transplanting, and due attention to shading, situation, and watering, you may have a succession of fine large blooms for nine months in the year." (p. 16.)

Every one knows that pansies are easily propagated by cuttings, slips, layers, and seeds.

The History of the Pansy as a Florist's Flower.—Under the head of history of the pansy, our authors have only given descriptions, with the exception of the remark, that heartsease was represented by old writers as a powerful medicine, &c.; and that Mr. Lee of Hammersmith brought the choice varieties into cultivation. To supply this defect in No. I., we give the following, which has been communicated to us by a friend on whom we can place the utmost reliance:—

"The great beauty and variety of the Viola tricolor, now cultivated under the name of heartsease, pansies, &c., may be sufficient excuse for the following short remarks:—The first mention I have met with of pansies, or three faces under a hood (which latter is no inappropriate name), is in some manuscript papers which have passed through my hands, relating to the management and contents of Sayes Court Garden in Surrey, by the celebrated Evelyn, written in 1687, where pansies are enumerated in the list of 'coronary flowers for the parterre and borders.'

"From that period, up to about 1810 or 1812, there appears to have been little attention paid to their culture; and, perhaps, the only varieties that occurred during that period were such as arose accidentally, and passed unnoticed, being less interesting than the original species Viola tricolor. So far as my information extends, I believe that the following may be considered as the commencement of their cultivation in distinct varieties.

"About the period above noticed, Lady Monke, then Lady Mary Bennet, had a little flower-garden in the grounds of her father, the late Earl of Tankerville, at Walton, who was a zealous cultivator of plants. In this latter garden was a figure of a heart, into which this amiable lady used to plant the varieties of pansies, which she accidentally discovered growing in her father's garden. Aided by the industry and zeal of Mr. Richardson, then and still gardener at Walton, several pretty varieties were raised or discovered, and transplanted to this little parterre. In 1813 or 1814, several distinct and striking varieties were thus obtained; and these having attracted the notice of the late Mr. James Lee of Hammersmith, he, availing himself of the intercourse then opened with the Continent, applied to some of his correspondents in Holland, and procured from them a large blue variety, which is still occasionally seen in the old gardens, and which, as a matter of course, was soon added to the Walton collection. Mr. Reed, one of the foremen in the Hammersmith Nursery, turned his attention, to the same subject; and, in course of a few years, twenty varieties were to be had in that splendid establishment. Mr. Richardson was no less active in enriching the Walton collection, both with seedlings of his own, as well as those of others; till, at last, the two collections became very numerous in varieties.

"A flower so pretty, and of such easy culture, thus became almost a general favourite; and it has now arrived at that point of perfection as to be ranked in the lists of florist's flowers, a station which the pansy is likely to hold for some time.

It is but justice to remark that the Walton collection to this day maintains its credit as the first in the kingdom, not only on account of its being the oldest, but, also, the most select; although several nursery collections may be more numerous in varieties.— J. M. Surrey, July 4. 1835."